Technology

Don’t Give Away Your Privacy For A Free App or Game

Ever since humans became humans, individuals have had a desire to keep some things to themselves. People have aways had things that they would rather others didn’t know about, whether it be private thoughts and opinions, physical characteristics, or desires and fears.

It has only been in the last few hundred years that any government or society has recognized an individuals right to privacy, or whether such a right actually exists at all. The concept of privacy is unique to Western European, and more specifically, Anglo-Saxon cultures. Many languages do not even have a specific word for ‘privacy’.

Privacy is broadly defined as the ability of an individual to control personal things, unique to that individual, how they are obtained, and how they are used. Examples of private things would be your physical body, private thoughts, personal photos and videos, mail and other correspondence, phone conversations, financial information, purchase histories, religious and spiritual affiliations, political views, medical records, your address, phone number, age, and such…

Is privacy really that important? Absolutely, at least to a degree. Private information has, and is regularly used to persecute, intimidate and harass people all the time, by the government, organizations, lawyers, bill collectors, salespeople, companies, ex-spouses, ex-lovers, and even ex-friends. One of the most recent examples was the IRS targeting of certain Political Action Groups critical of the current administration, by using audits, threats, and denial or delays of 401c status in a blatant effort to silence them. Pedophiles have used Facebook information to target their next victims. People have been located and murdered by others who found their whereabouts using information gained from internet sources. In any supposedly free society, privacy is a major concern. It is one of the defining characteristics of being free.

There is a constant battle between security, and privacy. The Patriot Act circumvented many of our privacy laws and made them pretty much moot, all in the name of National Security. Now, 70-year-old grandmothers are having their library records scrutinized by the government in case they might be a terrorist, so think about that next time you want to check out a copy of Mein Kamf for a school report or private research. Big Brother probably is watching……. The US government even has a computer program called Carnivore (at least that was the last one anyone knows about….), that mines the internet, cell phones, emails, and who knows what else, looking for any key words programmed into it, and stores the data, permanently. Since it is classified, no one outside the government knows what keywords are used, and what information is retrieved. The people who may know are the same people that built a room at AT&T headquarters to house data collection equipment to eavesdrop on all of your phone calls.

There is actually even a more sinister issue to privacy. With the advent of the internet, your private data is, in theory, accessible to anyone that can get it. And there are no laws prohibiting it. In this supposedly “Land of the Free”, where a person could go to federal prison for opening someone else’s mail, any individual or company can download all of your emails, phone records, financial information, medical records, etc…all without fear of prosecution. If anyone can get them, they are fair game. And not only your information, but they can also download your contacts and friends lists, and get all of their information as well. This information is then sold, for huge profits, to third-party companies who use it to send targeted sales ads, do background checks, or chart financial habits, deciding who to hire, and more. A recent 2013 report found that 70% of unsuccessful job applicants were rejected because of information gained from the internet, mostly from Facebook, Goggle+, Twitter, and MySpace. Over 60% of companies now pre-screen job applicants by using the internet. So, that last post you made on Facebook complaining about Walmart could cost you a job in the future……

But, it doesn’t stop there. Companies aren’t satisfied with just what they can get from social media. They want it all. With enough information, they can determine your sexual orientation, spending habits, drug use, medical issues, race, sex, and more….. One of their favorite tools is to dangle a carrot, in the form of free apps and games, through places like the Google and Apple stores, blowout.com, CNET, downloads.com, photobucket.com, and others…

This is a warning: Don’t give away your privacy for a free app, or game. Here is why:

That app may seem cool, but there are things attached to it called Terms of Service, and the Privacy Statement. And almost no one ever reads either of these, assuming they all say the same thing. Well, they do, and here is what they say. You agree to allow them to have complete and full access to your email, text messages, contacts, social networking pages, search engine history, cookies, anything else they can get, and allow them to edit or delete information as they see fit, and to sell it to anyone they want, without any further permission from you. You basically are trading your life history for a free game, or application. By law, they are required to offer an opt-out process, assuming you even read the terms and conditions, but it is usually so complicated and tortuous that most people don’t bother. So, now you know where all that spam, and all the pop-up ads come from. And, it goes without saying that the app will certainly place a tracking cookie on your hard drive. Some can be removed, but some are more insidious, so much so that the only way to be sure they are gone is to reformat your hard drive completely. A lot (most) free apps are bundled with other software, such as Trojans, Keyloggers, Rootkits, Bootkits, Back Doors, and Password Stealers, that record your information and constantly upload it to another party, without your permission or knowledge. I can’t even begin to list all the ways this information can be used against you. Just take my word for it….it’s bad, bad, bad.

I can’t stress how dangerous this could be. Most sites only require that you state you are at least 13 years of age, but have no way to verify this. Your children could be giving away personal information that could be going to perverts, pedophiles, and who knows where else. These companies do not know or care who they are sending this information to. All they care is that they are making money. Anyone can create any kind of identity on the net, and pose as a business, or charitable organization in order to get information from Google, Photobucket, the App Stores, or where ever. This information has been used to locate people under Protection Orders, by Insurance Companies to deny services, to get financial account numbers, and more. If you’re lucky, all that it will be used for is just a lot of annoying targeted advertising and telemarketer calls on your cell phone. And that’s the Best-Case Scenario.

Even worse, companies like Google, and Facebook are safe from prosecution, because thanks to the wisdom (or lack of…) of our illustrious elected officials, who consistently remain 10-30 years behind all technical and social curves, this is not illegal. And they have little concern about civil lawsuits. The few that have made it to court have, for the most part, been dismally unsuccessful. They are gambling, and rightly so, on the fact that the majority of people do not have the time, money, or resources to have any chance at all of winning any lawsuit against a multi-million dollar, international corporation with 100s of lawyers on retainer who’s only function is to slap you down, and hard, to discourage future lawsuits.

I hope this article is a wake-up call for you. Don’t trade your privacy for a free game or app. It’s not worth it…

Related posts

Why it Pays for Businesses to go Digital

David Beart

Playing on Your Phone When You Have Company

Stef Daniel

Is TV Ruining Your Life – Then Shut your Television Off

Stef Daniel

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.